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Social Work and Public Policy in Detroit

Stephanie Gray Chang

In 2005, Stephanie graduated with a degree in Psychology and Asian/Pacific Islander American (APIA) Studies from U-M. She worked for five years with the Michigan Campaign for Justice, an advocacy organization working toward improvements of Michigan's public defense representation system.

Through APIA Studies and involvement with the Detroit Asian Youth Project Stephanie had the privilege of meeting Grace Lee Boggs, a 96-year-old veteran activist who is redefining what revolution means in the Motor City.

"After graduating, I had the amazing opportunity to live at the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership and volunteer for Grace as her live-in assistant. She and the Boggs Center community further exposed me to grassroots efforts in the City of Detroit," Stephanie explained. "I fell in love with Detroit and was reinvigorated to continue social justice work."

Stephanie was learning something new every day on the job and through her volunteer work in Detroit, and that's when she realized she wanted to round out her education with an emphasis on policy analysis, writing, and a deeper community organizing skill set.

"I decided to pursue a dual degree masters program in social work and public policy," Stephanie said. "After my undergraduate career, I skipped over theory and dove straight into practice. Now I want the opportunity to learn qualitative and quantitative skills so I can be a more effective advocate and organizer. The dual degree program allows me to pursue my areas of interest with an outstanding knowledgeable faculty."

During her summer policy internship made possible through the Bohnett Public Service Fellowship, Stephanie is working in Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's office to assist with new initiatives at Detroit Police Department. These changes will improve cost efficiencies and provide enhanced service.

"This is new territory for me. It's an exciting opportunity to be a part of the team that is strategizing and implementing new ideas to better serve the City of Detroit. I'm lucky that my policy internship and social work field placement will blend my passions and degrees, in the city that I love and call home!"

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